British Columbia

LNG approval leaves B.C. mayors divided over pipelines

Mayors from across the province speak out both for and against the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion project at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Victoria.

Mayors speak out at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Victoria

A ship receives its load of oil from the Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline loading dock in Burnaby, British Columbia, on June 4, 2015. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

A group of municipal and First Nations leaders from across the province made a last-ditch effort to convince the federal government to reject the Kinder Morgan expansion pipeline at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Victoria — while a coalition of others voiced their support for the project.

Politicians from Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby and other municipalities expressed their opposition to the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project in light of Tuesday's approval of Petronas' Pacific NorthWest LNG project, saying there has been inadequate public consultation from the federal government.

"In very large infrastructure projects like this one, it is customary the federal government would hold public consultation and that the public would be able to cross examine those witnesses," said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

"None of that happened," she added.

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote also spoke out against the pipeline, saying that before the federal government approves a project of this size, more voices need to be heard.

"We haven't been able to have that larger discussion as a province about whether our future is in pipelines or not," he said.

Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer was also in attendance to protest the pipeline. She joined host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's BC Almanac.

"We don't believe that Kinder Morgan is worth the risk," she said, adding that municipal communities have the most on the line.

"These issues around pipelines are a grave concern to local communities who bear all of the risks and have none of the benefits," she said,

Getting Canadian energy to market

But there are a fair share of B.C. municipality leaders that are in favour of the project.

The Northeast B.C. Resource Municipalities Coalition says the province should support proposed resource projects to get Canadian energy to market.

The coalition, which includes Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman and Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar, argue that the Kinder Morgan and Petronas's projects will diversify the B.C. economy and "create thousands of new jobs and economic prosperity."

'Head-on collision with economic reality'

If the Kinder Morgan Expansion Project is approved, a new pipeline would be added to the Trans Mountain Pipeline system, which already carries oil from Alberta to B.C.'s coast. The twin pipe would up capacity threefold to nearly 900,000 barrels of oil transferred per day.

Ted Morton, professor of political science at the University of Calgary and former MLA, thinks approval of the project is more likely given the federal government's recent approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

"The Trudeau government is going to be a lot more pragmatic or middle of the road on these issues than it might have campaigned on a year ago," he said on CBC Radio's BC Almanac.

"Its not unusual for a newly elected government to have a bit of a head-on collision with economic reality over the first 12 months."

With files from CBC's BC Almanac

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Several B.C. municipality leaders unite to oppose Kinder Morgan pipeline at Union of B.C. Municipalities Conference

With files from Richard Zussman